• by Tyler Dellow • October 2, 2010 • Uncategorized • 56 Comments

    This will absolutely be my last post about Hall/MPS. I promise. I was going to let it go without taking a run at Jason Gregor for his silly post but, after Bob Stauffer brought it up again today with Elliotte Friedman and they both said some things with which I disagree, I figured there was probably still one last post left in it. As far as Gregor’s asinine post goes, I’ll say no more than I continue to be astounded by his sense of the moment when it comes to an opportunity to make himself look ridiculous by getting factual and CBA stuff wrong while being snide about others having done so.

    If you’re interested in the Stauffer/Friedman discussion, it can be found here. I’ve been tossing out lines on Twitter on all night about the “Toronto based lawyer” bit that Stauffer kept hammering at the beginning. I’m not entirely sure why any of that is relevant to what I think about what the Oilers should do with Hall/MPS but it strikes me as a vague sort of an attack on the value of what I have to say about this. If I’m purporting to break news from my sources surrounding the team and people are trying to figure out the amount of weight that they should attach to it, I can understand that. It’s a bit harder on philosophical points to understand how where I am or what I do has anything to do with anything. The whole thing vaguely smelled of “This guy’s views should be treated with suspicion because he’s a Toronto lawyer and doesn’t understand the reality.” Lame – Stauffer’s better than that.

    Anyway, Stauffer and Friedman discussed five points which, I think, cover a lot of the criticism that my point has received. There was 1) the expectations of the season ticket holders, 2) the feelings of the players involved and their relationship to the team, 3) the fact that the Devils and Red Wings haven’t had to deal with really high end prospects, 4) the whole idea that if you’re one of the twenty best players, you make the team and 5) (this is really one of Stauffer’s babies) Player X from days of yore was put right on the team at age 18.

    Friedman brought up the point about the season ticket holders. At the risk of coming off as a Toronto based lawyer, a very similar case was decided against the fans who claimed that they were entitled to see Alexei Yashin perform:

    They argue that the implied term which has to be found to support the plaintiff’s position is that the club agreed to have Mr. Yashin on its roster as an active player or else be in breach of its contract with the season ticket holder. However there are a number of possible intermediate positions between the one extreme where the full terms of the contract amount exclusively to the right to sit down and watch whatever players the club cares to put on the ice and the other extreme where the club is duty bound to play Mr. Yashin, no matter what, or be in breach of contract. There exist possible implied terms which would fall somewhere between these two extremes. For example, the contract could be found to contain the implied term that the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club agreed to take all reasonable steps within their control to ensure that Mr. Yashin would be part of its roster in the 1999-2000 season. I agree with Mr. Cogan that the state of the law does not require the proof that the unlawful interference resulted in an actual breach.

    The issue before this court is whether the evidence adduced on this motion supports the existence of such an implied term. As indicated, the plaintiff chose not to offer any evidence. The plaintiff had to “put his best foot forward”. He chose to rely exclusively on the evidence of Mr. Mlakar. The plaintiff is therefore relying at best on the marketing brochures or other marketing techniques used by the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club to sell tickets as proof that the club had legally bound itself to play Mr. Yashin barring circumstances beyond its control. The evidence of Mr. Mlakar falls short of showing that any of the representations made in the marketing campaign were made with the necessary promissory intent. Such an intent is required in order for the court to find them to be an enforceable term of the contract. It would have been very easy for the plaintiff to file his own affidavit stating that he understood this to be one of the terms of the contract. His silence when the rule requires him to speak out entitles the court to find the plaintiff has no such evidence to offer. Moreover, on the evidence the implied term suggested is too vague and uncertain. The court is not at liberty to simply create a contract between the parties in the absence of some evidence supporting that conclusion. There is therefore no evidence to weigh and no factual inferences to draw. In any event as a matter of law I find there is no evidence to allow a court to find the existence of the implied term.

    I would expect a similar outcome in any action brought against the Oilers.

    More seriously, Friedman was talking as if I’ve said that all three of Eberle, MPS and Hall should be sent down and that he doesn’t know how the Oilers could sell tickets in that circumstance. With the greatest of respect for Elliotte, first of all, I don’t think Eberle should be sent down and I haven’t been making that argument. In virtually any other year, Eberle would be considered a fine draw coming off a terrible season all by himself. I suspect that there are a lot of teams in the NHL that he’d make this year and which would be happy to have him as their “Come see the future” card all by himself.

    Edmonton is also a market that hasn’t had problems moving tickets in the past few years, even for terrible teams, although I’ll concede that there were some signs of softening demand this year. What’s more, it’s purportedly a sophisticated market. Fans could, I expect, be sold on the benefit of letting Hall develop for another year in junior and letting Paajarvi spend a year in OKC getting a feel for the North American game and another year bigger and stronger. When Captain Canada Jr. was sent down last year, there wasn’t really much in the way of complaining about it.

    I have a hard time believing that Oilers fans could not be sold on waiting a year for Hall and MPS if the organization put some effort into selling the idea that it was the right thing to do for the players. Given the time when the decision to buy tickets is made in a market like Edmonton’s, I doubt that sending them down would have a significant impact on ticket sales. I’m not really moved by this as a reason not to send them down. It strikes me as a little funny that Stauffer’s making this point – he’s the guy who’s been calling for a full-out rebuild of the Oilers since 2007. That necessarily involves a bunch of pain for season ticket holders. I’m not sure why the pain has to stop NOW (and everyone seems to concede that the team is going to be terrible anyway), other than it being a convenient time to decide that it does, given that the Oilers appear to have decided that MPS and Hall will make the team.

    Even if I’m wrong about ticket sales, I suppose I can take some solace in the fact that I’m genuinely interested in the best interests of the team on-ice and less worried about what goes on in the board room. I’ll worry about the Oilers off-ice situation when they stop letting Steve Tambellini light millions of dollars on fire.

    As for the second point, the feeling of the players involved, I’m a little irritated that nobody who brings this up seems to feel any need to respond to my counterpoint about this – it happens all the time in baseball, without any consequences for the team that does it. Are hockey players that much more self centred than baseball players? I’ve got a hard time believing that to be the case. I’ve also pointed to Jason Spezza, something that nobody challenges when I make this point, who also struggled to make the Senators despite seemingly being good enough – the Senators held him to a very high standard in terms of what he needed to show to make the team.

    In the responses I’ve seen to this and, regrettably, in the conversation between Stauffer and Friedman, there were more vague fears expressed without any recognition of the fact that this happens in other sports without much in the way of consequences for teams. I would, as well, guess that there are lots of players cut every season who don’t think that they deserve to be sent down at the end of training camp who ultimately end up making (and starring in) the NHL. We don’t constantly hear about players sticking it to teams at the end of their first contract.

    Now, as for the Wings and Devils, who I’ve pointed to as an example of teams that don’t rush people. The last three points are all, to an extent, intertwined. Everyone who has pointed out that the Devils and Red Wings haven’t had very many picks in the top twenty is correct. That does not, however, mean (particularly in the Devils’ case) they haven’t had players who pressed for spots as teenagers. Patrik Elias had a very good AHL season at 19 and got into just one NHL game. Scott Gomez had an outstanding year in his draft year (49 points in 45 games for an horrific team) and was sent back down to score 108 points in 58 games. He put up 70 points in the NHL the following year, so I’m hard pressed to see the argument that he couldn’t have been a contributor a year earlier. Zach Parise dominated in college hockey in his draft year and was left in college for another year.

    I’ll concede that the Red Wings haven’t had as many high end prospects as teenagers as the Devils but, and I think this is important, I don’t know that it’s fair to say that MPS is any better as a prospect now than the Devils’ guys were then and they were left in place. I’m by no means convinced that MPS would score a point a game in the AHL this year – it’s a very tough league. If you’re going to err, particularly given the financial consequences of doing so, does it not make sense to err on the side of having the guy really establish that he’s too good for the level he’s at?

    As I mentioned, my fourth point kind of ties into this. The whole idea that the twenty best guys are the twenty who make the team simply isn’t true. Guys are sent down for contract reasons all the team and neither of Stauffer or Friedman are naive enough to think that that isn’t the case. I’d bet that hockey players know this pretty well. Guys are sent down because other guys would have to clear waivers and they don’t. Guys are sent down because they’re on two way contracts and others aren’t. Bobby Ryan certainly could have played in the NHL before he did but the Ducks had cap problems and he didn’t need to clear waivers. Martin Gerber has outplayed anyone else in the Oilers camp and is almost certainly a better goalie than either of DD or JDD this year but they have one way deals and the Oilers aren’t big on recognizing sunk costs so he goes down.

    I’ve listened to Stauffer talk about this a few times this week and one of the things that he has harped on is that the Red Wings didn’t send Steve Yzerman down. He added to that today, pointing out that the Canadiens didn’t send Guy Lafleur down to the Voyageurs when he struggled to start his career. (“Struggled” being a relative term; he started his career by finishing fifth in scoring on the defending Stanley Cup champions. Making the early 1970′s Montreal Canadiens and finishing fifth in scoring was probably somewhat more difficult than making the modern era Edmonton Oilers).

    The problem with these examples is that, while they provide Stauffer with an opportunity to go on about hockey history with reference to famous names, they aren’t really relevant to the discussion. Yzerman and Lafleur both made the NHL at a time when players were slaves, basically owned in perpetuity by their teams. There was also no salary cap. In the circumstances, the downside of playing them in the NHL was pretty minimal. One of my most vivid memories from law school is my torts prof teaching us how to go after existing precedents by looking to kick out the premises on which they’re built. The issues that drive my point about Hall and MPS simply did not exist when the decisions cited by Stauffer were made.

    There’s a sixth point that wasn’t made by either of them but which has been made by others that I want to address too: the idea that forwards drafted first overall always make the team out of training camp. While this has historically been the case, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the practice is a good one. To start with, prior to the introduction of the current CBA, all you did by starting your high picks at 18 or 19 instead of 20 was push the date of their arbitration eligibility forward, in a league in which there was no salary cap. General managers prior to 2005-06 simply were not operating under the current constraints, which limits the value of their decisions as precedents. If you look at the guys who’ve come into the league since the lockout, you have Crosby (one of the two best players in the NHL, 2005-2020), Erik Johnson (back to university for a year), Kane (by a GM who was subsequently fired, in part, because of the enormous salary cap mess that he created which wasn’t helped by Kane being in the NHL), Stamkos (drafted by a team owned by idiots who were desperate to sell tickets) and Tavares (ditto).

    You can make a pretty compelling argument that, outside of Pittsburgh (and I’m not completely impressed with their management), the teams making decisions on those players are not known for employing best practices. Nobody’s going to make the argument that the judgment of Len Barrie in matters pertaining to hockey judgment is sound in any circumstance other than this, based on his ownership of the Lightning. The same is true with respect to Charles Wang. These are not, by and large, teams that have been operated particularly well. Where pre-2005 precedents are suspect and the judgment of a lot of people plunking 18 year olds into the NHL is questionable, it seems senseless to me to treat their practices with young players as being gospel.

    Finally, a seventh point. I don’t concede the development point, that these fellows are best developed at the highest level at which they don’t get completely destroyed. I also don’t concede that either one of them has proven that they have nothing further to learn at the previous level. It’s the crux of the argument that Lowetide made but it’s an unproveable point. He cites Earl Weaver, who managed during a different time, when there were no costs associated with developing a guy at the highest level beyond the team maybe giving opportunity to a less than optimal player. Weaver never had to consider the marginal cost of doing so. His view (and argument) might have been different if he had too.

    Similarly, it’s not like consensus on this point is unanimous. As I pointed out above, when people say that everyone does it, they’re generally talking about poor teams. Brian Burke’s an NHL GM and he prefers to have his players spend some time in the AHL and has backed that up with fellows like Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Cory Perry. Lou Lamoriello is, at most, extremely hesitant to drop guys directly into the NHL at a young age. Both of these guys have enjoyed success that the Oilers management hasn’t.

    I don’t think either side of this debate can appeal to a unanimous authority position.

    Friedman made the point, with which Stauffer readily agreed, that I’m right if you consider my point in a vacuum. With all due respect to both of them, it strikes me that they made a lot of points based purely on speculation and fear of the unknown, while ignoring some of the more difficult points for them to deal with. They (and everyone else who thinks that this is a terrible idea) are free to make whatever arguments they want to make but (and this is particularly true of what I’ve heard Stauffer say about it) I think I’ve put forward some reasonably substantial points (like guys like Spezza being sent down and still on the team nine years later) that have been basically handwaved away while irrelevant things like “BUT GUY LAFLEUR STARTED IN THE NHL AT AGE TWENTY FORTY YEARS AGO” are spouted.

    Ultimately, they’re both going to be in the NHL this year. If things go well and they both turn into players, costing the Oilers $11MM or so between in 2013-14, it should be remembered that Tambellini and the Oilers could have had an extra $9MM or so in cap room had they held them back a year. That money, spent wisely, could well be the difference between winning the Stanley Cup or not. This is the exact same point I made with respect to Dustin Penner – the Oilers are playing for now at the cost of lowering the ceiling in the future. I’m sure I’ll still be watching the Oilers during that season but I’ll spend a large part of the season muttering to myself (and, given that I have a forum, complaining here) about the various holes that could have been filled with some money to put the Oilers over the top if they’re close.

    About Tyler Dellow

    56 Responses to

    1. BRIdub
      October 2, 2010 at

      With regards to the development of players in junior why could tambellini not just say to hall “we know you can score at the junior level, what we want to see from you is a complete focus on learning defensive hockey, don’t let the other team score when you’re on the ice.”. Surely that would help his development as a player. Further, if they are considering him learning center why not do it in junior? Surely Windsor would be willing to play him at center in exchange for getting him back this year.

    2. Pete.
      October 2, 2010 at

      Trying to figure out why you chose that title; I assume it’s because your initial idea has gone over like a le(a)d zeppelin?

    3. Quain
      October 2, 2010 at

      It’s because the fourth Led Zeppelin album was, technically, untitled using just those symbols.

      Or he just really wanted to bitch up his headers. Either way.

      Anyhow, I’m not terribly impressed that Stauffer had some ‘random’ guy from Toronto on instead of the guy he was actually talking about. I mean, if he can spend the money on long distance to call Friedman, why can’t he get you on the horn and bitch at you directly?

    4. Pete.
      October 2, 2010 at

      Ah, OK, so it’s an “untitled” play too. Doubly clever.

      Sure did bitch up the headers, yes.

    5. lowetide
      October 2, 2010 at

      Tyler: Would you agree that the 9-game audition is a nice tie-breaker for the conversation?

    6. Dennis
      October 2, 2010 at

      I don’t think you play the kids just for the fuck of it and I don’t think you them in the A just for the helluva of it either.

      I didn’t see last night’s game but from what I’ve seen 14 and 91 are ready and 4 isn’t.

    7. Tyler Dellow
      October 2, 2010 at

      LT – I’ve got no problem with giving Hall a nine game audition. The bar he’d have to clear to stay after that is pretty high as far as I’m concerned. FWIW, I agree with Dennis – I haven’t been convinced that he’s ready. There was a moment last night where he tried to initiate contact with Ian White while he was carrying the puck and White just sort of brushed him off. IAN WHITE.

      As far as MPS goes, he’s a much easier thing too – you can start him in the minors and then call him up if and when he’s killing it.

    8. lowetide
      October 2, 2010 at

      Stamkos was 2-2-4 -1 after 9gp as a rookie. If Hall can meet those totals, do you keep him? Or is your mind made up?

    9. cooglia
      October 2, 2010 at

      I thought the most interesting point in all of this debate is that 1. you talked about wasting years on 45-50 point seasons, 2. you pointed to the Detroit model, and 3. Zetterberg and Datsyuk still only broke into the NHL at 45-50 point seasons. I think you make a good point about other players being sent down and there not being a big backlash – BUT Edmonton is an extremely fragile franchise and town at the moment. If Edmonton is viewed in the hockey community as a less than player friendly market then avoiding a money-driven decision on these players might be an important step in rebuilding the rep.

    10. Tyler Dellow
      October 2, 2010 at

      Cooglia –

      The context of Zetterberg and Datsyuk’s seasons are entirely different from a 40-50 point season on a terrible team. Detroit was a cup contender and they were conmpeting with Hall of Famers for ice time. You also can’t delay an ELC once a guy reaches that age, so there’s nothing to be gained by keeping him out of the league. I didn’t, for example, have any problem with Cogliano coming right to the NHL because he was 20.

      I completely disagree that Edmonton is a fragile franchise and town. As far as Edmonton being viewed as player friendly, the Oilers are going to be an attractive team to play for when they’re a winning team to play for. Pissing away the cheap years with Hall and MPS in an effort to show how player friendly you are won’t help if it prevents them from breaking into the top tier.

    11. Tyler Dellow
      October 2, 2010 at

      LT –

      It would depend how he looked. Rob Schremp had three points in four games once and I think we agree he looked bad. If he looked like he could be a legitimate 70-80 point guy who doesn’t bleed at the other end, I might come around to it. That’s a pretty high bar though – Crosby might be the only guy who clears it as a rookie.

      Funny with the nine game cutoff – Stamkos was -3 with 1 point after 8 games and after that 2G 1A +2 ninth game, put together a nifty little 8 game pointless streak in which he went -7 and, IIRC, had the coach say he didn’t belong in the NHL yet.

      I find the development angle in all of this interesting. I’m not entirely sure that I believe that a guy who plays in the NHL at 18 develops better than a guy who starts at 19, all things being equal. I wish there was some way to test it, but there isn’t. I would think that there’s kind of an initial process of getting used to the speed of the game but I’d imagine that there are some seriously diminishing returns in terms of additional games played.

    12. Tyler Dellow
      October 2, 2010 at

      Quain –

      Yeah, I kind of agree with that too. I’ve given Bob material for a week. If he’s going to keep referencing me and wants to debate the idea, my number’s on the internet.

    13. October 3, 2010 at

      I’ve also pointed to Jason Spezza, something that nobody challenges when I make this point, who also struggled to make the Senators despite seemingly being good enough – the Senators held him to a very high standard in terms of what he needed to show to make the team.

      Without making any comment on the Hall/MPS convo here, the Spezza thing was in a totally different context. The Sens didn’t send him down to junior and then to the AHL for the reasons that you suggest the Oilers do so here. Getting value out of ELC years were not nearly as important under the old CBA. Rather, the Sens sent him down because Jacques Martin prefers players that play the game differently than Spezza (or put perhaps more favorably to Martin, he doesn’t like the kinds of mistakes that players like Spezza make), and because the Sens were a ridiculously stacked team back then. Even when Spezza was in the second year of his ELC and coming off a 55-point regular season, Martin scratched him for a couple games in the playoffs that year. Maybe I’m misunderstanding or simplifying your invocation of the Spezza point (I haven’t read everything you’ve written on this topic), but I don’t think what the Sens did with Spezza, rightly or wrongly, has anything to do with what you’re suggesting the Oilers do with Hall and MPS. In Martin’s eyes, Spezza was not going to make the Sens better in 01-02. The point here is, rather, it doesn’t really matter whether or not Hall/MPS are going to make the Oilers better in 10/11.

    14. October 3, 2010 at

      Is there any way the Oilers can upset the apple cart and challenge the fact that they can’t send Hall to the AHL? Can they do an end run around the whole thing and ship him off to Sweden or Finland or something? The CHL-AHL rule always struck me as mind-blowingly stupid, in terms of what’s best for the player. If the kid can’t do anything more in the CHL, let him play in the AHL, and if he gets his brains bashed in, you can always send him down again. I wonder if 14 would have been better off spending last year in Springfield, not Regina. Not like either team was very good, anyway.

    15. October 3, 2010 at

      Ah, OK, so it’s an “untitled” play too. Doubly clever.

      I think it was more of a play on “four” (The fourth post on Hall/MPS ELC’s) than “untitled”. I got a pretty good laugh when I saw it though, Tyler – good stuff.

    16. Julian
      October 3, 2010 at

      Don’t the Oilers have a guy named Gilbert Brule as example number one of how things can go bad when you rush a kid (a kid known for his headstrong, back off of nothing despite his size kind of play) to the NHL at age 18?

      I’ve only seen one of Hall’s games so far, and I agree, he hasn’t looked that amazing thus far. Sure he should get 9 games in the NHL, but I’m curious about what might happen if he doesn’t do so well, ie has a Stamkos sort of start. Will there be any whispers anywhere that maybe he doesn’t belong yet?

    17. Julian
      October 3, 2010 at

      Dougie, my understanding is that according the CBA, he first must be offered to his junior team if the Oilers don’t keep him, they can’t offer him to any club anywhere else, Sweden, Finland, or my beer league.
      I guess they’d have to bribe Windsor into letting him play elsewhere. Don’t think that’s too likely though.
      But yeah, it’s obvious that the AHL would be best for players like that. Playing against men, playing a full schedule, but not quite the top level competition.

    18. Triumph
      October 3, 2010 at

      Fwiw, Tyler, the Devils are about to burn 2 EL years this season on Alex Urbom and Jacob Josefson. Also left out of your analysis was Petr Sykora playing in the NHL at 18. The Red Wings put Jiri Fischer in the NHL at 19.

    19. speeds
      October 3, 2010 at

      So what if Tyler’s in Toronto, and isn’t a season ticket holder? Neither of those factors are relevant when analyzing his argument. Argue against the idea, not the person.

      Besides, if the criteria is “do what season ticket holder’s want”, I doubt there’s too many fans that would rather see Jones in the NHL over Omark, or fans that desperately wanted to Oilers to re-sign Strudwick. For that matter, I’m sure there’s a bunch of fans that wish the Oilers would leave the past in the past, and bring Souray back.

    20. speeds
      October 3, 2010 at

      Triumph:

      Personally, I think the arguments a bit different for a team trying to win the Cup right now. New Jersey’s window doesn’t last forever; who knows how long they have Brodeur playing at a high level, Parise needs a new contract after this year, and he’ll probably need at least a 3 mil per year raise. Their best chance at winning the Cup might well be this year. If you’re going to start those guys early it makes more sense to do so when you’re trying to ice as good a team as possible than it does in a year where you aren’t expecting to make the playoffs.

      I made a similar argument regarding DET in a post about this whole Hall/Paajarvi thing

    21. speeds
      October 3, 2010 at

      I’m not sure how much I think of the ticket angle. If they’d have only sold 12,000 ST, instead of the 13,700 they reportedly did*, I think you could argue that keeping all 3 up was defensible as a business move.

      The problem is I’m not sure if that’s the case. There’s no reason you can’t benefit from the hype and sell your tickets now. The STH and mini packs and single game tickets sold are already sold – you don’t need to keep the big 3 around for those tickets to remain sold.

      so, let’s you sell all you can from now until you cut Paajarvi on Wednesday, and until Hall hits his 8th or 9th game and is sent back to junior. How many tickets sold do you lose, at that point, compared to the hypothetical situation where you keep all three, all year? I don’t know what the answer is, but I doubt it’s as high as 1500 per game, over 82 games, especially since you’re probably 9-15 games into the season already anyways.

      *I think that’s the number Laforge mentioned once on Bob’s show, that they increased the number of STH this year from 13K to 13.7K.

    22. October 3, 2010 at

      Is there any way the Oilers can upset the apple cart and challenge the fact that they can’t send Hall to the AHL?

      I think they probably have a strong antitrust claim against the CHL on this. I’ve commented on this on Tom Benjamin’s most recent post and I may follow up on it one day, or Tyler will probably beat me to it and tell me why I’m wrong.

    23. Triumph
      October 3, 2010 at

      speeds:

      sure, but i don’t think you can have it both ways. these players were ready for the NHL (sykora may not have even been ready) and in they went.

      also, tyler’s MLB example doesn’t exactly work because players in MLB get exorbitant bonuses to sign and tiny salaries. signing bonuses in the NHL are tiny.

    24. speeds
      October 3, 2010 at

      also, I do agree Tyler that the different CBA’s make it very difficult to compare TB keeping Lecavalier in the NHL at 18 with anyone keeping a top pick in the NHL at 18 now. I know I’m probably not telling anyone anything they don’t already know, but specifically:

      (1) The service time issue:

      TB had Lecavalier until 31 (or, at least, that was the CBA at that time, he ended up going UFA slightly earlier with the change to the new CBA), while EDM has Hall for either 7 years or until 27, whichever comes first. Obviously that’s going to provide less incentive for TB to send him back, since they have him until 31 whether he’s in the NHL at 18 or 20.

      (2) the different pay structure for RFA’s in the different CBA’s:

      In the current CBA, there is reason to try to delay the start of the ELC not just because of the 7 year rule, but also because it now costs more to sign an equivalent RFA than it used to before the lockout.

      In some ways, you might have even wanted to get the ELC over quickly, for top picks like Lecavalier, because their salary after their ELC was, I think, generally lower than their salary + bonuses under their initial ELC.

      (3) no salary cap.

      That said, I’m of two minds though as to how baseball relates, again probably due to the difference in perception.

      In baseball, it’s pretty much accepted practice that all teams delay the service clock for their prospects. In hockey, it’s yet to be a common, everyday occurrence. So, if leading the charge in that regard in hockey causes your next top 5 draft pick to decide to re-enter the draft, it would not be good. I’m skeptical if that is the case, but I suppose it’s possible. I think it would be easy to say “We tried to give Hall the benefit of the doubt, but we already had Eberle and Paajarvi, and Hall just wasn’t ready” if he struggles to start the season and EDM decides to demote him to junior.

    25. speeds
      October 3, 2010 at

      Triumph:

      I think I addressed some of what you’re saying in the response I just posted, but I didn’t see your reply before I posted #24.

      That said, I don’t see what’s hypocritical about saying DET or NJD should keep Hall now, while EDM shouldn’t. He may well be a better player and better value from 20-22 than from 18-20, in both situations. But, if you’re actively trying to win in a small window, starting now, maybe it does make sense to start Hall now? And if you’re looking to win in the future, and aren’t trying to win right now, maybe it makes sense to save Hall’s contract for future years when you have a better chance to win?

    26. roddie
      October 3, 2010 at

      But, if you’re actively trying to win in a small window, starting now, maybe it does make sense to start Hall now? And if you’re looking to win in the future, and aren’t trying to win right now, maybe it makes sense to save Hall’s contract for future years when you have a better chance to win?

      I believe that this has been Tyler’s main point since he first brought up this idea weeks ago, but sadly it’s gotten lost in discussions about development and “what do you mean he’s not ready?”

    27. Wax Man
      October 3, 2010 at

      Isn’t the bottom line that Hall will have to learn the NHL game eventually? Why not have him in the lineup if he can’t go to the AHL and has nothing to prove in the CHL? He doesn’t have to play every game either in order to develop. Having a view from the press box can go a long way in learning the mens game.

      If you don’t want to bring him in at 18 to “burn” a year of his contract, then why bring him in at 19, or 20, or 21? Just wait until he is 25 and fully mature physically before he starts to learn the NHL game. Or just trade him, get a pick or an older player and skip the development stage altogether.

      Of course I’m being facetious with the last paragraph, but how can he develop in junior playing against kids that he has dominated for 2 full seasons? He has to get used to the travel and intensity eventually. So Hall is on the team. That “burnt” year of 40 points is also a year of unmeasurable experience.

    28. Wax Man
      October 3, 2010 at

      And for what it’s worth, he has not looked NHL ready. But the problem is, where do you go from here. A development year in the NHL playing 50-60 games can go a looong way.
      If after 8 games, he is way out of place, i.e. getting labeled over and over, being a liability defensively or just not able to learn the system,then Windsor it is, and for good reason. I’m sure at that point, there would be nothing to explain to the fans or to Hall.

    29. October 3, 2010 at

      I’ll start by saying that I agree with your fundamental argument that Magnus Paajarvi and Taylor Hall should be playing in the AHL and OHL respectively this year. The development angle is an unknown, and it’s clear that saving a cheap year of each guy now will help the Oilers more when they actually have a chance to win.

      That said, I can definitely understand why it’s not going to happen. For the players involved, starting in the NHL is an obvious win; their earning potential is higher the sooner they start an NHL career. But it’s also good for Steve Tambellini (and the others in management). It’s all well and good that the Oilers should benefit from saving the cheap years on these ELC contracts, but the benefit doesn’t come for four more years. Tambellini has no guarantee that he’ll be around that long, especially if the team does poorly on the ice and/or at the gate, and at this point, he needs to be worried about both. From his perspective, sending the players down is a much riskier proposition than keeping them with the Oilers.

    30. Tyler Dellow
      October 3, 2010 at

      Rajeev –

      I would suspect that pushing back Spezza’s arbitration eligibility was at least part of the discussion in Ottawa when it came to making a decision as to what to do with him in 2001-02. They could have brought him up and used him as a fourth line guy or something like that, for example, and chose not to.

      In any event, the key point is whether Spezza thought he was hard done by. I’d be willing to bet he did. He got over it. Coming of age on a perennial contender probably didn’t hurt.

      Doogie –

      No you’re stuck with offering him to the CHL first. It’s in the CBA. It’s ridiculous.

      The NHL actually doesn’t guarantee its prospects a ton of money on their first contracts. Just the signing bonus, which can be 10% of the total, IIRC, and AHL money. If I have that right, Hall is guaranteed something like $480K by his contract and other top ten picks are probably in a similar position.

      Triumph -

      Alex Urbom is 20 for CBA purposes. Josefson…just looking, nobody seems to be saying he’s made the team yet. Sykora I mentioned when I first wrote about the Devils and Wings in January.

      Speeds –

      On the ticket angle…do MPS and Hall move tickets in January when they’ve got 20 points or so and the Oilers are in 10th or 11th? I’m not sure that they do. I said the same thing when people were defending SOuray on the basis of the excitement he created. At some point the hockey starts and someone points out that the Emperor’s dong is showing.

      Rajeev –

      I’m not as sure. Nothing prevents Hall (or, more likely, someone drafted a little later than him) from telling the team that picked them that they’re only signing a contract if they are guaranteed an NHL spot, otherwise they’re going to spend their teen years in the AHL or SEL or something. Shit, if the Oilers were to cut Hall this year and he went out on his own and signed a deal in Sweden, I’m not sure anything bad would happen. Edmonton’s not going to do anything and I don’t see what Windsor could do.

      I can guarantee that Edmonton, as owners of a WHL franchise, won’t be the team to upset this particular applecart though.

    31. Tyler Dellow
      October 3, 2010 at

      also, tyler’s MLB example doesn’t exactly work because players in MLB get exorbitant bonuses to sign and tiny salaries. signing bonuses in the NHL are tiny.

      Getting held back a year costs players a lot of money. Bonuses in MLB aren’t so huge that guys don’t care about playing an extra year for slave wages.

    32. October 3, 2010 at

      I would suspect that pushing back Spezza’s arbitration eligibility was at least part of the discussion in Ottawa when it came to making a decision as to what to do with him in 2001-02.

      It’s a nice theory but I’d be a little surprised if that were the case. I think there was a bit of disagreement btwn Muckler and Martin re Spezza and I think that was part of what cost Martin his job. Muckler did not strike me as a particularly legal/business savvy guy and I’d be surprised if he was thinking about pushing back the clock on Spezza. I think the reason they sent him to junior in 01 is the same reason he started in Binghamton in 02 is the same reason he started the playoffs as a scratch the following season: Martin didn’t like his game and thought he wasn’t the best option. As for whether or not Spezza ever got over it, he seems like a pretty easy go lucky and hard to piss off guy, yet I think he wasn’t too stoked on his situation in Ottawa by the end of the year. That said, he was terrible in the playoffs and he should know it, and I would have to think he’s long over any bitterness from the Martin regime. Spezza seems like an interesting dude who’s had a lot of weird things happen to him in his career.

    33. mclea
      October 3, 2010 at

      As for the second point, the feeling of the players involved, I’m a little irritated that nobody who brings this up seems to feel any need to respond to my counterpoint about this – it happens all the time in baseball, without any consequences for the team that does it.

      I don’t see how this is a fair comparison. The expectations are totally different in MLB. Everybody who gets drafted knows that they will be kicking around the minors for a couple of years. Even the number one pick knows he’s starting in A ball. Adam Loewen was the 4th pick in the draft and his agent got him a deal where the Orioles had to have him on the major league roster 3 years after he signed. Ball players know they’re not starting in the show and they get paid huge signing bonuses in exchange for playing in nowhere Iowa for a couple years.

      But if I’m Taylor Hall, I expect to be playing in the NHL. And I have this expectation because pretty every other first pick starts in the NHL.

    34. Tyler Dellow
      October 3, 2010 at

      I may be erroneously assuming that people understand what goes on in MLB.

      Basically, they have a system in which you need three years of MLB experience before you’re arbitration eligible. There are some players though, who are classified as Super Twos – guys who are in the top 18% or something of players without arb eligibility in terms of service time.

      Every year, there’s a bit of a game played with teams delaying in calling up prospects. They do it so that they can fuck guys out of becoming arbitration eligible a year earlier. It’s done when a guy is major league ready as, for the purposes of this conversation, we’re pretending Hall is. In effect, what they’re doing is pinching a high earning year from you and replacing it with an extra year of cheap work. I’ve never heard of a guy refusing to stick around after he was FA eligible because of that. Other things, like money at FA time and chances of winning, simply matter way more.

    35. October 4, 2010 at

      In baseball, how often do people demand and then get a trade. In hockey it happens with major superstars: Heatley, Pronger, Lindros, etc.

      You run the risk of it happening with Hall if you take away two of his salary earning years.

      How much is the per hit cap savings if you hold Hall back two ELC years? (Can we talk some hypothetical numbers?) I assume it’s pretty low if -that’s an important if- Hall is good enough to draw offer sheets if the Oilers won’t offer him high enough for his RFA years.

    36. Vic Ferrari
      October 4, 2010 at

      MLB is a different kettle of fish, though. It is pretty obvious that really young players rarely contribute to a team’s success. Strasburg is an exception, but he also signed a $15 millionish signing bonus.

      Harper was the #1 overall this year, and nobody is expecting him to be ready for the major leagues for several years. In hockey that just wouldn’t happen. I’m certainly not a prospophile, but there are a lot of terrific 20-22 year old players in the NHL.

      What’s the maximum for a first year minor league pro in baseball? $2000 per month and $20 a day per diem for road games? Something in that general range I think. Don’t cry for Harper though, with that $6 million signing bonus he should be able to afford a reliable car and a couple nights a month out at Applebee’s.

      Plus it’s a dramatic swing in salary. Pujols made $200k as a 21 year old, which was presumably the major league minimum and rookie max., then $600k, then $900k, then $7 million. That’s a dramatic bump, almost an order of magnitude. The decision becomes a bit of a no-brainer. Bringing up a guy early in MLB has huge financial implications, brings him a year closer to UFA status as well.

      Plus there is a long track record of player development in the baseball minor leagues. Teams know that they aren’t hurting the kid’s progress, in fact they know they’re helping it. Plus baseball is the type of sport where it doesn’t really matter much if you become a selfish prick. You contribute about the same to the team’s success either way.

      The biggest issue for me with Hall is that he cannot be sent to the AHL. And very good players tend to go uncoached in the CHL. They float about relying on their instincts like a bunch of mini-Gretzky’s.

      I mean keeping up Gagner as an 18 year old didn’t work. He got his ass handed to him most of the time. On the other hand, that’s reflected somewhat in the salary he garnered this summer. Had Gagner been able to be sent to the AHL as an 18 year old, matured physically and learned to be a pro … he would likely be better for it, and he would likely be earning more in 2011/2012 because of it.

      Neither of us know what happens in that parallel universe. But personally I don’t think the savings are as great as you do.

      Also, using Stanley Cups as a measuring stick for success is foolish. There is a lot of luck involved in winning a cup. I’m sure that a google would reveal dozens of instances of you chiding others for doing the same.

    37. mclea
      October 4, 2010 at

      Every year, there’s a bit of a game played with teams delaying in calling up prospects.

      This is the norm for baseball. It is not the norm for hockey. If I’m Hall, I don’t care how things work in MLB. I care how things work in the NHL. And in the NHL, the number one pick makes the NHL roster in his first year.

    38. October 4, 2010 at

      Still trying to make an argument without using any real facts to back them up. Of course if you look at the facts then they would make your argument incorrect

      1. What should the Oilers do with Hall?

      Again the facts point out that the Oilers should keep him in the lineup for the entire year.

      The following below are the last 7 forwards to get drafted number 1 overall and where they played after they were drafted.

      John Tavares – 2009 Played the first year in the NHL 54 points as a rookie

      Steven Stamkos 2008 Played first year in the NHL 46 points followed that up with 51 goals 96 points his second year

      Patrick Kane 2007 Played first year in the NHL 72 points. 70 and 88 point years followed

      Sidney Crosby 2005 Played first year in the NHL 102 points. Multiple 90+ point seasons after

      Alex Ovechkin 2004 Strike season could not play in the NHL. First year 52 goals 102 points multiple 90+ point seasons after

      Rick Nash 2002 Played first season in the NHL 39 points. Multiple 30 goal/50+ point seasons after.

      Ilya Kovalchuk 2001 Played first year in the NHL 51 points. 67 and 88 points the years after

      The facts state that the number 1 overall forward does have his development hurt or stalled by going directly to the NHL. All those teams were poor NHL teams at the time. Some of them went on to be very good and even win the Stanley cup. Some of them did not.

      By doing something totally different when it has already been proven a very good thing to do sounds incredibly stupid. How much heat do you think the Oilers would take over doing exactly what you suggested.

      MPS is a different matter. After watching him in the exhibition games he has proven he can play here now. That can change during the regular season and they do have the option of sending him down if he underperfoms. Going back and looking at some euro’s that came over early it certainly didn’t hurt Backstrom or Voracek but it didn’t seemly help Filatov or Boedker either. I am unsure of whether in his case it is the right thing to do or not. From history it seems to be a crap shoot on whether he will adjust quickly or slowly.

      Eberle is easiest one to answer. He has put in his time in Junior and the AHL. He looks to be consistently one of the better Oiler players in preseason. Really hard to justify right now to send him down.

    39. Tyler Dellow
      October 4, 2010 at

      Joe -

      I think that this discussion is beyond you. I don’t mind if you read the site but don’t want you posting here anymore.

    40. Julian
      October 4, 2010 at

      Joe, Eberle never was part of the discussion, and if you don’t know why, you’re really in over your head here.

    41. Tom Benjamin
      October 4, 2010 at

      I think Tyler is mostly right on the key issue, but I also think the Oilers now have to keep Hall if he is one of the best two or three left wings on the team. I would have no difficulty with the decision to send Hall back no matter what if the Oilers were clear about it from the outset.

      “The policy of this team is to send all our draft picks back to Junior. I suppose we would make an exception for a Sidney Crosby, but we don’t think Taylor Hall is ready to be an NHL star. Since he is not ready to be an NHL star it is better for the organization and for the player to wait a year before he enters the NHL.”

      They can say that with a straight face even if the idea it is better for the player is very arguable. They say that at the draft when the media asks the team whether Hall is ready for the NHL. Teams don’t do that because that’s not part of the NHL narrative amid the hype and hoopla of the draft.

      What you cannot do is have it both ways. You can’t play the draft hoopla game and let Hall and the media and the fans all believe that he has a chance to make the team when he does not. Its dishonest. Its one thing if the team does not think he is ready. Hall might disagree, but he will get over that.

      Its another thing if Hall busts his butt at camp to make the team, does well enough to stick, and then gets sent down because of the CBA. Hall has been misled. He’s comparing himself to others, counting spots, worrying and hoping… And all along he never had a chance? The Oilers always knew they were sending him down no matter how well he did?

      That’s a horseshit way to start the business relationship with the player.

    42. October 4, 2010 at

      Comment deleted.

    43. el scorcho
      October 4, 2010 at

      “The facts state that the number 1 overall forward does [not] have his development hurt or stalled by going directly to the NHL.”

      Truly one of the dumbest arguments on the entire internet. The debate is not whether number 1 draft picks can score, it’s whether keeping Hall and MPS on the roster is a good decision in terms of strategy, value and future payroll considerations for the Edmonton Oilers between 2010 and 2014 or so.

      Far too much of the discussion on this topic reminds me of the following exchange from the Simpsons:

      Bart: But why, Mr. McGwire?
      Mark McGwire: Do you want to know the terrifying truth, or do you want to see me sock a few dingers?
      Crowd: Dingers! Dingers!

    44. Jamie
      October 4, 2010 at

      “I have a hard time believing that Oilers fans could not be sold on waiting a year for Hall and MPS if the organization put some effort into selling the idea that it was the right thing to do for the players”

      This is bang on, but how exactly can you do that when MPS has out performed most of the forwards on the team, and how do you sell the idea that Hall is going to progress as a player in a league he has dominated for two years? If Hall could play in theh AHL I think this decision is pretty easy. Unfortunately most teams that finish #30 do so because they have no depth and little talent, thus making it easy for the next great thing to beat out the competition for their spot.

      This may have been addressed earlier and if so I apologize, but seeing that high picks tend to struggle in their first year or so, could this not save the team money on the second contract? All these top players are going to get their money on the second contract, guaranteed. By starting as an 18 year old, and having lower counting numbers for the first half of their ELC should this not lower their subsequent cap hit?

    45. dawgbone
      October 4, 2010 at

      Jamie, why can’t Hall progress as a player dominanting in a league he’s dominated for 2 years?

      Why is it Omark (who probably has a pretty good case for being NHL ready) that’s being shuttled off to OKC?

      This may have been addressed earlier and if so I apologize, but seeing that high picks tend to struggle in their first year or so, could this not save the team money on the second contract? All these top players are going to get their money on the second contract, guaranteed. By starting as an 18 year old, and having lower counting numbers for the first half of their ELC should this not lower their subsequent cap hit?

      If Hall puts up 40, 50, 80 points in his first 3 years starting at 18 or 50, 80, 90 starting at 19, he’s going to get a similar contract.

      You are right, he’s going to get his money (the argument isn’t about saving money on the 2nd contract), the purpose is to delay when he gets that second contract.

      Let’s assume that Hall is going to be an 80-90 point player on the last year of his ELC.

      If he starts at 18, that means the Oilers have this year, next year and the year after to benefit from Hall’s contract. This year we’ve already written off as a “development year” which means the Oilers have 2 years left before Hall gets his raise.

      If he starts at 20, the Oilers have 2 seasons to make the necessary adjustments to the roster in order to compete for the cup. 2 years to build the roster, 3 years of a cheaper Hall contract.

      The bigger issue is that Hall, Eberle and MPS will all get their 2nd contracts the same season. The Oilers could potentially be seeing a $15+mil cap hit on these 3 players. As soon as you have to pay these guys bigger money it can take away the depth from your roster.

    46. spOILer
      October 4, 2010 at

      I’m with Vic. I don’t think the savings are anywhere near what Tyler is estimating. If any at all.

      At 22 he should be able to negotiate a better second contract than he could at 21. If he can negotiate that same better contract at 21 than he has blossomed early and I think every team will take that over possible future cap savings in a year they may not need them. If he can’t, but can at 22 then we’ve created bigger cap issues in Hall’s 4th year than we would have by starting him now.

      The 25/26 yo year is irrelevant if we have him locked up long term before then. But if that 3rd contract comes, and it is signed one year older due to holding him back year, then we’ll be paying more again.

      And the future cap and roster are nebulous things anyway. Won’t we be under a new CBA then? What will the rules be? What will the ceiling be? Will Penner or Hemsky still be on the team?

      I agree with forethought towards future cap hits, and I think Tyler makes some excellent points that need to be considered. Certainly if this was the number 10 overall and he was struggling a bit, I would agree.

      But I have watched all of Hall’s games and I attended last night’s affair (sans Hall, avec Linus), and I have to say, all things considered, I’ve been impressed with Hall’s game. He is certainly a more complete hockey player right now than Omark. His problems seem to stem from a lack of familiarity and there’s only one way those problems can be overcome. The cap issue isn’t compelling enough for me (and holds its own perils with regards to the alternative) to not give him the familiarity he lacks.

    47. spOILer
      October 4, 2010 at

      Dawgbone, we’ve also seen teams use that to their advantage in negotiations — “you have to share the pie. Don’t you want to win? Don’t you want to win with your buddies” kind of thing.

    48. Tyler Dellow
      October 5, 2010 at

      Plus there is a long track record of player development in the baseball minor leagues. Teams know that they aren’t hurting the kid’s progress, in fact they know they’re helping it. Plus baseball is the type of sport where it doesn’t really matter much if you become a selfish prick. You contribute about the same to the team’s success either way.

      The type of delay I’m talking about in MLB is a few months at the start of what will end up being a guy’s rookie year. It’s not the whole development process of years, it’s screwing him over for a few months when he is obviously ready. It’s the same thing (in fact, arguably worse in that everyone’s a lot more certain that the player is ready.)

      Neither of us know what happens in that parallel universe. But personally I don’t think the savings are as great as you do.

      Also, using Stanley Cups as a measuring stick for success is foolish. There is a lot of luck involved in winning a cup. I’m sure that a google would reveal dozens of instances of you chiding others for doing the same.

      Maybe I should do something running through the possibilities. The dream scenario, I think, is that both Hall and MPS are bonafide stars by the end of their second year in the league. For that third year then, you’d be getting $12MM or $13MM worth of hockey players for less than $2MM in cap room (with the threat of them hitting bonuses, too). That’s a huge opportunity and a big savings. It’s a window that’s (IMO) more likely to open if they’re a year older. Plus controlling them for an extra year in their prime and all that afterwards, for a lot more, seems to me to make it more likely that we’ll win.

      Even if I accept what you and Spoiler are saying, it seems to me that you and I are in rough agreement that it’s tough to overpay a legitimate star. Probably more true when he’s on an RFA deal. Wouldn’t you rather have Hall and MPS’s 26 and 27 seasons respectively for RFA dollars instead of their 18 and 19 seasons?

      Agreed on Stanley Cups taking a ton of luck; that doesn’t change the fact that the goal of the game from a managerial perspective is to rig the dice.

    49. October 5, 2010 at

      If you don’t want to bring him in at 18 to “burn” a year of his contract, then why bring him in at 19, or 20, or 21? Just wait until he is 25 and fully mature physically before he starts to learn the NHL game. Or just trade him, get a pick or an older player and skip the development stage altogether.

      You clearly haven’t been following this long. The two considerations are:
      1) If the player is under 20 and plays outside the NHL, his ELC “slides,” i.e. he doesn’t lose a year on his contract. That’s likely to make him cheaper in most circumstances (though there is the side issue of whether he develops better outside the NHL and thus becomes more expensive in his second contract).
      2) He becomes a UFA in seven years or at 27, whichever’s first. Which would you rather have? Hall at 18-19 or Hall at 26-27?

      I can guarantee that Edmonton, as owners of a WHL franchise, won’t be the team to upset this particular applecart though.

      I had forgotten about that. Damn. Though then again, the Flames also own a WHL team, and they still pissed off the rest of the League by snapping up Abbotsford for their AHL team.

      You run the risk of it happening with Hall if you take away two of his salary earning years.

      Who’s costing him anything? See above: he has the same seven years guaranteed with the Oilers, three of them under the ELC, whether he starts in the NHL at 18, 19, or 20. He arguably makes more in the long run if he develops elsewhere for a year or two first.

      Still trying to make an argument without using any real facts to back them up. Of course if you look at the facts then they would make your argument incorrect

      I’m pretty sure you’re the only one not citing useful facts in making an argument. We all know the precedents, thanks. That’s not what we’re talking about.

    50. dawgbone
      October 5, 2010 at

      Dawgbone, we’ve also seen teams use that to their advantage in negotiations — “you have to share the pie. Don’t you want to win? Don’t you want to win with your buddies” kind of thing.

      Sure, but you do that whether he starts at 18, 19 or 20.

      The biggest thing is creating your window of opportunity.

      Personally, I’d love to see a team with Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Gagner, Hemsky, Penner, Horcoff, Gilbert, Whitney, Smid, Petry + others in 3-4 years.

      You can’t do that if you are paying Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi $5+mil each.

    51. Vic Ferrari
      October 5, 2010 at

      Tyler

      But that’s an extreme scenario. Maybe not as much for Hall, but certainly for Paajaarvi.

      There was much gnashing of teeth when Gagner and Cogliano made the squad at 18 and 19 respectively. In fairness neither of them deserved it, and neither delivered much in terms of helping the Oilers win. But they were selling hope at the time. And they succeeded. Little has changed.

      By my memory, much of the opposition came from the baseball crowd (You, Riversq and Dennis). And ultimately it didn’t have much of an effect on the Oilers payroll or cap situation.

      I think speeds covered this topic exceptionally well at his site. The only issue I’d take with speeds is the financial impact. One could argue that once you had used the three rookies to generate excitement and season ticket and mini-pack demand (more important than sales at this point) you could shift them off with no immediate impact.

      That’s true. And Ford could make the decision to forgo goodwill expenses and stand firm on all warranty claims. In the short term it is profitable, in the long term it’s going to hurt.

      As Benjamin says above, but relating it to fans … you can’t change tack without some sort of consequence from the consumer. And in Edmonton, you wouldn’ believe the excitement surrounding the three rooks (and I know Eberle doesn’t apply to your reasoning here). That’s really all they have to sell right now, and for all the faults with that organization … they have sold the hell out of it. Just because you didn’t buy anything doesn’t mean it wasn’t a terrific sales job.

      In general I think you make a lot of good points. I just can’t buy what your selling in terms of commercial value. Extreme scenarios and Cup winning comps aside … sems overblown.

      Having said that, if the Oilers had made all the right noises early, and had just now sent Hall back to the CHL (almost unthinkable I know, 30th place teams just don’t do that sort of thing) and Smitty back to Sweden … \i would be encouraged. At least we’d know they had some sort of plan in effect for the on ice product. And, rightly or wrongly, it was bigger than the plan in effect for off ice goals.

    52. October 5, 2010 at

      Doogie: I don’t see how the player could make more money by starting in the NHL later. A player starting at 18 gets two extra years of income than a player who starts at 20, and he gets through his ELC years sooner too. Do you think that playing in the NHL will significantly stunt development? I just don’t see it.

    53. speeds
      October 5, 2010 at

      Vic:

      I tried to kind of hint at that in my post. Personally I wouldn’t be very impressed with a bait-and-switch, if I were a STH who bought based on the marketing of the rookies, only to see them demoted even if they look pretty good early in the regualr season. Although, given how well they have been able to sell this year’s team after last season, I can’t say they couldn’t sell demoting Hall and Paajarvi now, but they’ve left themselves in a tougher spot than they had to if the kids are borderline.

    54. Tyler Dellow
      October 6, 2010 at

      But that’s an extreme scenario. Maybe not as much for Hall, but certainly for Paajaarvi.

      Fair enough. Say things go well for MPS though and he’s a 30/30 guy by the end of his ELC. I’d be stunned if he’s making less than $4MM in those circumstances.

      By my memory, much of the opposition came from the baseball crowd (You, Riversq and Dennis). And ultimately it didn’t have much of an effect on the Oilers payroll or cap situation.

      We’re just starting to see the effect of it now. It will be a difference of about $1.4MM in cap room this year and next. Bonuses could reduce that, if he does something that would have qualified him for bonuses but the great thing about them is that you can exceed the cap by that amount. After that, there should be no difference for the next two years and then two years of the difference between whatever he gets as a UFA versus what he’d have done as an RFA in Edmonton. I’m not as convinced that this amount is huge, particularly with the guys who are a step down in quality, but you’re probably talking about four years where the difference is greater than $1MM in cap space in the next six. That adds up, particularly if you’re a team that’s playing close to the cap and if there are a couple of guys involved. The league’s an efficiency contest and the Oilers just bleed cap dollars.

      I know as well as you do that winning the Cup takes a ton of luck but I think we both agree that fortune tends to favour the well prepared.

      One could argue that once you had used the three rookies to generate excitement and season ticket and mini-pack demand (more important than sales at this point) you could shift them off with no immediate impact.

      I agree that the Oilers should have been clear this summer that there were no guarantees that Hall and MPS were going to be here. For all the talk of doing it right though, they’re going for the quick fix again. I mean, say what you will about Burke and maybe it’s easier in Anaheim because nobody knows who they are but in Edmonton, guys like Getzlaf and Perry would have been selling tickets in 2005, not earning their way up from the AHL. If there’d been no lockout, they probably would have been selling tix in 2004.

      That’s really all they have to sell right now, and for all the faults with that organization … they have sold the hell out of it. Just because you didn’t buy anything doesn’t mean it wasn’t a terrific sales job.

      If the argument is that they’ve boxed themselves in, I accept that. I take some issue with it because I’m not sure that they have. I think Oilers management gets a ton of slack here – witness the past four years – and they can convince their consumers of a lot of things. Give Hall 9 games to start and then send him down. Heck, if they were really devious, they’d work something with the Spitfires to acquire his rights for the Oil Kings so that they can supervise him all year. Give MPS 9 at the end of the year. Explain to your fans that you’re doing what’s best for the team in the long run. I can’t believe people wouldn’t accept that, no matter how excited they are. This organization can sell anything.

      As far as commercial value goes, the analysis for Hall and MPS is the same as the analysis for Gagner. You think I’ve got it wrong?

    55. The Other John
      October 6, 2010 at

      Tyler

      Sorry for being late to the discussion but have been, with exception of very brief posts at very irregular hours, out of the loop.

      The reason Friedman and most Oiler fans want the Oilers to play all 3 of the youngsters is because they, rightly, fear the Oilers are going to be a mediocre team again without them. They just want some excitement because last years club was so incredibly horrible to watch

      Stauffer gets his instructions, express or implied, from team management and they want the 3 rookies on the roster. So that is the message he moves daily..

      The Oilers would have had zero difficulty putting off the arrival of 2/3 of the star rookies for a year. It would have taken a minor sell job in the marketplace. I suspect it would have taken only a few minutes of each Oilers Lunch away from Stauffer’s club mandated SELL SELL SELL the new arena all off season long.

      So that argument is a complete and utter non issue.

      The inexplicable thing is that entire last 1/4 of the regular season Stauffer strongly advocated a complete rebuild. Tear it down to the floor and rebuild. That was completely in line with his Total Hockey musing that we should have committed to the rebuild when Pronger left. Now the message is lets rush the 3 young guns up as quickly as possible.

      Future salary cap problems be damned. That is one of tomorrows problems.

      A smart team during the year of the work stoppage would have approached some of the more astute NFL and NBA team on salary cap management and picked their brains, what works, what are the pitfalls? Those teams would, I expect, have been willing to discuss their differing philosophies. Then when the NHL CBA was signed review the document from the first to last page and KNOW the document without relying on NHL explanations as to what it means.

      Then form a plan as to how you will manage your salary cap and steward to that plan in all but exceptional circumstances. If they had done that, I suspect that the off season would have gotten the Oiler fans ready for 9 games from Hall and MPS and 75 games from Eberle.

      The problem is that salary cap is a weapon. Properly utilized it gives your team a leg up, poorly managed it can hamstring a team. Most fans want to ignore it and only comment on it when there is a problem.

      No team in recent memory should be as poised for a series of Stanley Cup final runs like the Chicago Blackhawks. By salary cap mismanagement, and I do not mean the Barker, Versteeg, qualifying offers fiasco, but actual long-term salary cap mismangement, they may not get back to the SCF!

      Think about that. A team with the best player (in the tourney) at the Olympics- Toews, the American’s best scorer, our best D man and Canada’s shutdown pairing ….as its core they may not make it back to the finals when that young core is ENTERING their prime NHL years.

      Mindboggling.

      So for those of you that question a “Toronto lawyer” and his carefully thought out views, lets see what Chicago with a greatly stripped down roster (adding Pisani…love that move!!)can do next year. Because the only way they do not repeat as SC champions as their young core improves…….is as a result of long term salary cap mismanagement.

      Just as drafting, development,scoring, defense, specialty teams and coaching matters, so does salary cap management.

      The Oilers truly do not understand that.

      I’ve said it before and I will will say it again: our opponents ain’t playing checkers, they are playing chess.

      Do I want all 3 rookies here today….yup!! Do I think it is in our long term best interest? ….nope.

      I just think that when these young men are at age 22 – 23 the Oil are going to have some very very tough long term salary questions to address and I hope everyone here has sufficiently long memories to recall that this issue was NOT flagged by Oiler management because they were merrily playing checkers in 2010

    56. October 7, 2010 at

      I don’t see how the player could make more money by starting in the NHL later. A player starting at 18 gets two extra years of income than a player who starts at 20, and he gets through his ELC years sooner too. Do you think that playing in the NHL will significantly stunt development? I just don’t see it.

      I said “could,” and I was thinking specifically in terms of bonuses and the second contract. If his ELC is 18-21, maybe by 21 he hasn’t earned his bonuses or a big second contract, so he signs a Gagner wait-and-see deal. Whereas if his ELC is 20-23, by 23 he’s blowing the doors off of everything, earns most/all of his bonus money, and he signs for a whack of dough. I guess it’d basically require the difference in earned bonuses to outweigh the value of the two-year second contract, or for Old Rookie’s second deal to be worth a bunch more than Young Rookie’s third, which seems less likely.

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